Sunday 22 November 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Winter Maintenance List

2003 Triumph Tiger 955i winter maintenance list

Chassis Maintenance

Swingarm remove and check/lubricate, replace bearings if necessary.

That's a tricky job because removing the bearing destroys them, so if things get that far along I need to make sure I can get new needle bearings... and a press?

Parts List (that I hope I don't need)

  • Triumph BEARING NEEDLE 2526 Part # T3800014
  • Triumph SEAL, SD 25 32 04 Part # T3600170
  • Triumph SPINDLE, SWINGARM Part # T2056007
  • Parts List

Front fork oil change and refresh.
Steering hub check, clean, replace if necessary

  • Forks & hub parts list
  • Triumph FORK SEAL Part # T2040283
  • Triumph 'O' RING Part # 2040081-T0301
  • Triumph GAITOR,FORK Part # T2040288

Part # T1240891
Fuel System Maintenance

  • clean fuel injectors?
  • how to do that except the first comment is not to backflush a fuel injector as they almost never go bad and this can wreck them
  • Royal Purple FI PEA Cleaner
  • I think I'm going to go with the SeaFoam I've been using if they aren't showing any signs of leaking
  • Motion Pro makes a clamp that lets you force cleaner through injectors, but it's expensive (for a clamp) and I'm not sure it's necessary
  • Another FI cleaning how to
  • And another is removing and cleaning injectors necessary?  Evidently
  • I think I'm going to draw some PEA cleaner through with a vacuum pump and let it soak rather than trying to pressure force cleaner through the system
  • I balanced the injectors in the spring with an FI vacuum/mercury system, but I'm going to try it again using the TUNEboy diagnostic system I've got.

LED Indicator Light Upgrade

  • replace existing LEDs with heavy metal update
  • got the parts in
  • kept the original flasher relay so if these aren't LED they'll still work
  • put LEDs on it aside

Tire Change

Brake Fluid Flush And Fill

  • Read the BIKE article on braided brake lines
  • done this before on the Concours
  • Tiger needs new fluid anyway (3 yrs since last flush)
  • Get DOT4 fluid
  • replace lines with DISCO HEL lines


Touch up work on body panels (I have Lucifer Orange touch up paint)

Monday 16 November 2020

Motorbike Research from the 1920s, 30s and 40s for Under Dark Skies

I'm eighty-thousand words into writing a novel loosely based on my granddad's experience in World War Two.  He was in France in 1939 and 1940 during the Blitzkrieg and the Battle of France.  Weeks after Dunkirk he was still trying to make his way back to Britain from occupied France as continental Europe fell to the Nazis.

I've always found that period of the war interesting.  Germany had the initiative and everyone else was struggling to understand what armed conflict had evolved into after two decades of incredible industrial progress following the trenches of WW1.  The allies weren't proud of their losses early on and it has since become an embarrassing and forgotten period in history.  If you don't believe me, just look up how many movies and books came out of the final year of the war when the allies were winning.

The novel, tentatively called Under Dark Skies (though I'm not married to that title), tells the tale of my granddad's service in a Royal Air Force Hurricane squadron sent with the British Expeditionary Force to France to stop the inevitable German invasion.

I've tried to keep it as accurate as possible, but in the absence of any specific details (my grandfather was never vocal about his war experience), I'm taking some other influences and mixing them in, Quentin Tarantino style.  Inglorious Basterds is one of my favourite World War Two films and I love the liberties he took with history, so much so that it's tempting me to do the same.

Bill was a member of the RAF White Helmets and a handy gymnast back in the day.  I've taken his
hidden-to-me, life-long affection for motorcycling, mixed in a bit of Guy Martin and Steve McQueen, though I don't know that Bill's history needed it, but it's just how I like to write.  Back in university I got into a difficult to get into creative writing course.  Leon Rooke came in a few times to help us with our writing process and commented on my ability to convey action effectively.  I like flowing, scripted action and that is the backbone of this book.

The fictional Bill's war experience was also influenced by this news article I found in a 1941 newspaper about motorcycle based 'suicide squads' who wreaked havoc inside Nazi occupied Europe.

That's out of the Spokane Daily Chronical on Saturday, January 4th, 1941!

I've had a tough year at work and needed to find a way to work off frustration, so when I can't sleep at 5am in the morning I get up and escape into 1940 France, it's been a life saver.

One of the enjoyable side effects of writing an historical novel is that you end up doing a lot of research in order to look like you know what you're talking about.  I have an equivalent of a minor degree in history, but the digging you do when writing in a time period is much more nuanced, and this case, very motorbike focused.  Here are some of my favourite motorcycle specific research bits from writing this thing:

Motorcycle Focused Research from Under Dark Skies

1938 Triumph Speed Twin:  I was looking for a state-of the-art fast bike to use in France that would outrun a supercharged German Mercedes staff car (that was a good scene to write).  Triumph's Twin was a massive step toward modern motorcycles and an early candidate for the job, though not what I eventually settled on.

1930s supercharger speed record bike from Italy (I was looking up ideas for a customized 'uncatchable' suicide squad bike...

History of military motorcycles. 

Triumph 3HW, Triumph's WW2 bike has a history closely tied to company and Coventry's brutal experience in the war:  
Triumph History overall:

Inge Stoll: Bavarian motorcycle racer and sportswoman - I'm looking to diversify the cast a bit towards the end. It's hard to do in the British military of 1940:

Peugeot used to make motorcycles!  They were quite common in France in 1940 where I'm spending my time.  I needed a bike that a local would have, so I had a look at the Peugeot listings:
NSU was a German moto manufacturer.  German bikes have a very distinct style back then that was quite divergent from the lighter more handling focused British machines, though the NSU 351 OSL is a pretty little thing:

The operating manual for a T-100 Triumph Tiger!  I'm partial to Tigers and a chance to bring the T-100 that started the breed into the novel was too good to miss:  The original instruction manual is really handy when I'm writing about details on the bike, like where the controls are.  I could just make it up, but then I might as well have just written a book about moon nazis in rocket-ships.

RAF bikes of WW2 (some good photos in there):

BMW bikes in WW2:
... and sometimes you want to know how they sound:
... which is just like Jeff's tractor!  I'm sure there's a BMW that doesn't sound like a tractor, but I've yet to find it.

1930s vintage motorbikes riding across France:
This one was handy from a bike and a geography angle.  A nicely nostalgic thing too.

Motorcycling in 1936:

Scottish Six Days Trial ended up playing a part in Bill's backstory (so there is a bit of Ross Noble inspiration in there too).  I liked the idea of Bill's amateur riding background somehow elevating him from lorry driving but didn't want the flash of road racing.  I get the sense that Bill's motorcycling was frowned upon by family and was never recognized as something that might improve his lot.  SSDT seemed like a good amateur-accessible option that demonstrated not just exceptional bike craft but also a toughness of spirit:

German women in the 1930s seem quite sports driven.  Ilse Thouret was another Bavarian motorbike racer who looked like a real tough nut:
Bill was a freemason so I'm thinking about bringing on of these women in as a daughter of one (freemasons were killed in death camps as jewish sympathizers).  If the Craft gives you the willies maybe you can take some consolation in knowing that Nazis hated it.

I was looking for a retired French moto-racer who could help Bill sort out a modified 'uncatchable' bike.  Louis Jeannin was one of few French winners, having won the 350cc championship in 1932, but I was reduced to wikipedia for the only mention of him:    
I ended up giving him a shop at 16/18 Rue de la République, 57240 Knutange, France where Bill goes to pick up a modified T-100.  Jeanin raced Jonghis, which I'd never heard of, though they have an interesting history:

1939 Tiger T100 for sale at Bonhams!  If the book does well and Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Ewan McGregor and Orlando Bloom all pick up the movie rights (they're all big bike nerds) then I'll get myself that T-100:

Looking for a cheap bike a lower class Cockney kid would ride and came across the BSA Blue Star thumper:
Banger’s bike at home: (est.) top speed 75mph.  Good nick name for a kid who rides a single cylinder banger.

1946 Triumph repair manual!  At the end of the war production lines were restarted with little updated because things were so exhausted.  This was a brilliant find as it details all sorts of bits and pieces that help me detail mechanical happenings accurately:

A Belgian sniper makes his way into the story and has become central to it.  I wanted him on something that spoke to Belgian industrial arts and came across the Gillet Herstal 720 AF - a state of the art machine that never saw wide production due to Belgium's invasion:
Gillet Herstal 720 AF motorcycle and sidecar (Belgian) a great Russian resource on motos of war!

A fantastically named French combination option: The Moto Gnome Rhone with Dragon Porte sidecar!

I was looking for an alternate German Sidecar combo since everything has been very BMW focused on
the German side, then I came across the Zündapp KS 750, a combination so good that the German government asked BMW to build it instead of its iconic boxer (BMW refused):
A fine example of German modernist design.  They're big and heavy though (over 30% heavier than the svelt Belgian Gillet Herstal combination).


Those are just the bike related links.  I have more than a dozen pages of links and notes on all
sorts of mad details.  At one point I got lost in WW2 vintage brass blowtorches (they're paraffin fueled!):

When I wasn't looking up details on British warplanes that simply didn't work well, like the Fairey Battle that I'd never heard of before, I was digging deep into fasteners used during WW2 (Germany was metric which is a problem if you're working on a German vehicle in a British hangar).

Writing UDS has been a great trip at a time when I'm frustrated by people's response to a crisis and can't go on any other trips anyway.  Thematically this erupts out of the text with regularity.  This weekend we're off to try and take out Luftwaffe high command at the HQ of Fliegerkorps VIII in Roumont Château, near Libramont in southern Belgium (check out May 26th).  At this point the story is writing itself and I'm often surprised at the direction it takes.  In my best moments I'm reading it as I write it, lost in time.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Flooding Fireblades: Sorting the fuel system on a '97 CBR900RR

Butterfly is under-gasoline...
Weather's closing in on us up here in Canada.  I had the 'Blade up on the bike lift last week thinking the riding season was over as we got buried in our first snow storm.  The next week suddenly warmed up due to a tropical storm somewhere, so I primed the Honda and got it going again (I'd run it dry in preparation for winter hibernation).  Unfortunately, it flooded itself and ended up with the first two carbs full of fuel.  You can see the wet in carb bell on the left.

I think from now on I'm going to turn off the fuel tap from now on whenever it's sitting rather than trust this touchy carb set to do the right thing.  Instead of taking the Fireblade out for a weirdly warm ride on Sunday, I was sitting on the driveway removing the carbs and changing the oil.

On the upside, pulling the carbs gave me a chance to replace all the rubbers (airbox and engine side), which needed doing (I'd been holding them together with some cunning chemistry).

New rubber bits on old bikes make a huge difference.  Even the engine side ones (which still looked good after 23 years of service) were hard and unyielding compared to the new ones.  I'm curious to see how the new ones seal in comparison.  I got the airbox rubbers from KW Honda in Waterloo, who were very responsive on email which hasn't always been my experience with local dealers.  They got four rubber airbox boots for a 23 year old bike that's been out of production for decades in less than a week, during a pandemic.  It's good to know my local Honda dealer supports older models.

I picked up a second carb set from NCK Cycle Salvage in Woodstock last fall for less than the price of the broken bits I needed to replace on the one that came on the bike.  I now have an entire second set of carb hard parts I can go to if I need any other bits.  The set they gave me (other than needing a choke pin on one of the carbs) was complete and balanced, and when I threw it on it worked a treat, so I ran it all summer having never gone through it.

With the carbs off in the late autumn sun last Sunday, I finally took the float bowls off and discovered that they were pretty grotty (when I emptied them the fuel came out brown).  It didn't take long to clean everything up, and I got carb cleaner deep into the jets and upper parts of the carburetors too.  It all went back together nicely and I was also able to lubricate and clean up the throttle action with the unit out, though it already moved sweetly.

With the new rubbers on, I put the carbs back on after work this week and they came back together nicely.  It's a good idea to attach the two throttle cables to the carb set while it's still loose.  Once the carb set is on the bike getting the cables on is a real bugger.

I went over all the fasteners as I went making sure everything was snug and leak free.  I've still got to put new oil in it, but we have a above zero day this Saturday so I'm hoping I can take the 'Blade out for an end of year run to make sure everything is five by five before I hibernate it for the winter.  Months hence after the winter of second-wave COVID pandemic, the Honda will be ready to go with fresh oil and a clean and capable set of carburetors.

This forgotten Honda is a real treat to ride this summer and is a very different thing from the Tiger.  One is a long distance tool built for pretty much anything, the other is more like an aeroplane designed for the road.  The 'Blade weighs over 20% less than the Tiger and makes almost 40% more power.  On interesting paved roads the Fireblade is in a class by itself.  Unfortunately, I live in a place deficient in interesting roads and track days in Ontario, even when there isn't a pandemic, are needlessly complicated (you basically have to show up with a race bike or rent something, there are no ride-on days for road bikes here).

The other nice thing about the Honda is how it's built for a single intention.  That focus on light-weight means getting in to work on it has been accessible and enjoyable.  Honda's aren't just designed ot run well, they're designed to be worked on too.  As my first Honda this bike has been a positive introduction to their engineering and design philosophy.

If I lived somewhere with interesting roads and reasonable track days I'd be hanging on to the Honda indefinitely as it was designed to express the dynamics of riding, but living in South Western Ontario, devoid as it is of interest, means I'm going to try and move the Honda on in the spring... assuming anyone is left post second-wave to buy it then.  I'm going to miss what it can do though.  Having this bike has opened my eyes to what a motorcycle is capable of dynamically.


We've got a major winter storm (100km/hr+ winds, rain and snow mixed) rolling in, but I got out yesterday afternoon for an hour and the 'Blade is even sharper than it was before.  The new rubber seals tighter, making the engine even more responsive, and the cleaned carbs are razor sharp in responding to throttle.  When I got home (cold, it was only a degree or two above freezing), I closed the petcock and ran it dry before parking up the 'Blade and wrapping it up for the winter.

After our long cold winter with second wave COVID19 piled on top, it'll be ready to go in the spring...

Sunday 8 November 2020

Motorcycle Book Review: Why We Drive by Matt Crawford

I just started "Why We Drive" by Matthew Crawford.  I was in the middle of transitioning from being an English teacher to a technology teacher back in 2012 when my university prof suggested Shop Class as Soul Craft, Crawford's first book.  It gave me the philosophical grounding I needed to value my manual expertise and to fight the prevailing academic prejudices of the education system I work in.

A few years later I'd embraced my new role teaching technology and found myself constantly arguing for parity with academic programs like the English one I'd just left.  Crawford came out with his second book called "The World Beyond Your Head", which made a strong argument for human expertise in a world where blind allegiance to system think made management a fragile grasp at control for people who have no other skills of value.

I'm only through the opening chapters of "Why We Drive", but I'm enjoying the angle Crawford it taking in using driving (and riding, he doesn't distinguish) as a means of questioning the assumptions we're all increasingly living under.  In the opening chapters he suggests that operating a vehicle is one of the few domains left that demand human expertise as the rest of society falls into a WALL-E like world of of systemic technology driven infantilism.

From Uber's malicious dismantling of existing industries to suit the long term game of its investors to the NHTSA's outright misleading information on Tesla's Autopilot feature (they claimed that it radically reduced accidents when this was simply untrue), and the industry driven big government money drive to chase old cars off the street by misleading the public with even more false statistics, Crawford tears apart many of the assumptions around environmental NIMBYISM and the relentless capitalism that underlies it.

I've questioned the environmentalism of hybrid and electric cars before.  It's a classic case of NIMBYism where the wealthy hide their pollution further up the chain and then claim superiority over all the people who can't afford to give up a tail pipe.  One of the difficulties in being a teacher of technology is that I understand it, warts and all.  Our battery technology is still medieval in both construction and effectiveness.  They don't hold a lot of power and don't last very long, but any analysis of electric vehicle efficiency likes to sidestep that factNissan Leaf owners can't though.

Crawford also brings up the idea of recycling already manufactured vehicles rather than giving in to the relentless futurism of consumer society where owning anything old is paramount to a crime.  He compares a massive new SUV (all modern vehicles are massive compared to older ones as they get weighed down with safety-at-all-costs tech and grown to maximum size) to his old VW.  They get about the same mileage, but driving the Karmen Ghia is a very different experience to driving a modern safety tank.

I'm about half way through it but the hits keep on coming:

It's a challenging read, but also an opportunity to wake up from the progress pills everyone has been popping and understand that being human isn't about efficiency and management, it's about agency.

What happens when we engineer our own solutions using universal dimensions instead of a manufacturer's parts catalogue...